Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vernal pool monitoring

I put out some traps last week to help capture and count salamander larva for a state-wide recruitment study. A herpetologist for the state is trying to see how many vernal pools are successfully hosting reproducing salamanders. The vernal pool I monitor hosts spotted, marbled and Jefferson salamanders. The 10 traps I put in the pool on Thursday night (3/13/2008) had a total of 64 larva swim into them and one adult Red-spotted newt. The majority of the larva were marbled salamanders. They hatch early (December-ish) and are already an inch or so long. There were a few smaller larva caught, which are most likely Jefferson salamander larva. They don't lay eggs until January or February. In April, I will put the traps out again, and typically get greater number of larva. Included should be spotted salamander larva which lay eggs later than the Jeffersons. By May, the pool will have dried up and the larva will all have gone through their larval stage, growing legs, and move underground in the forest. Included is a picture of Jefferson salamander eggs, and a marbled salamander larva taken by Lucy Miller.